KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Aaron Holiday got a scooping layup to drop just before the final buzzer Tuesday night, giving No. 23 UCLA a 72-70 victory over Wisconsin in the third-place game of the Hall of Fame Classic.
The Bruins (4-1) trailed 65-59 with about 4 minutes left, but Holiday knocked down two 3-pointers and converted two free throws to spur the comeback. Wisconsin tied it 70-all when Khalil Iverson made the second of two foul shots with 31.5 seconds left, but that was enough time for UCLA.
Holiday got the ball at the top of the key, briefly lost control, then roared down the right side of the lane past Badgers star Ethan Happ and scooped up the winning basket.
Happ had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead Wisconsin (2-3), which has lost three straight games, all to ranked teams. Iverson, D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison had 14 points apiece.
Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman scored 11 points each for UCLA. Prince Ali and Jaylen Hands had 10 apiece.
The consolation match between perennial Big Ten and Pac-12 powers boiled down to a game of runs.
Wisconsin embarked on the first one late in the first half, running its methodical offense against the Bruins’ man-to-man defense and building a 38-26 lead. UCLA countered with the next one, a 14-2 charge spanning the break that drew the game even, then pushed the run to 26-6 to seize control.
The biggest change for the Bruins was in their guard play. Welsh and Goloman had kept them in the game in the first half, but Holiday and Co. began to stretch the defense in the second.
Things changed again midway through the half, when the plucky Davison — making his first start — knocked down a 3-pointer. By the time he buried another one a few minutes later, the Badgers had ripped off a 16-2 run that turned a 55-46 deficit into a 62-57 lead with 7:35 left.
The Bruins went on the final run to end it.
Wisconsin has played a brutal stretch against Xavier, Baylor and the Bruins, and it’s been a sharp learning curve for a rebuilt roster. But Davison showed in Kansas City that he can contribute in a big way as a freshman, and that’s reason for the Badgers to be optimistic.
UCLA has reason to love Kansas City, where it won the first of its 11 national titles and won the Hall of Fame Classic a decade ago. But a poor performance against Creighton in the semifinals raised some questions about the Bruins’ toughness, and to some extent they answered them Tuesday night.
Wisconsin heads home to face Milwaukee on Friday night.
UCLA begins a four-game home stand Sunday against Cal-Irvine.